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What Goes Into the Price of Shipping a Vehicle?

Subscribe November 03, 2016
Auto Transport | Car shipping process | Choosing an auto shipper | Industry Information

Transporting a vehicle can be stressful, and it definitely will cost you some money. But the most frustrating thing for most people is that they don't understand how shipping rates are calculated -- they're paying thousands of dollars to ship a car, and they don't know what they're paying for. So, here's a quick breakdown of the most common factors taken into account when determining the price of shipping a car:

Shipping company

The vehicle transport industry is actually extremely unregulated and there are many, many sketchy car shipping services out there. Finding the cheapest vehicle transport company isn't always the best idea -- in fact, one of the worst things you can do when shipping a car is probably to pick the company that offers the cheapest rate.

Vehicle type / size

This one is pretty obvious: many companies also take weight into pricing plans, so a smaller car will likely be cheaper to ship than a big SUV or pickup truck.

Companies, like DAS, typically require that customers remove all personal belongings from the interior of their cars (and even from the exteriors, since things like spoilers or hood ornaments are easily damaged). In rare cases, car shipping companies may allow customers to have anywhere from 50-100 lbs. of extra cargo in their car during shipping.

Keep in mind, you might have to pay for this cargo to be transported too. Even if you don't have to pay extra -- 50 lbs. really isn't that much! For comparison, airlines often put 50 lb. limits on suitcases. So, if you're a full grown adult and you want to put a table in your car while it's shipped, but you can't even lift the table -- it's probably not going to be within the weight limit.


When you have to ship a car, distance is one of the main factors in determining the price. Where will your car be picked up, and where will it be delivered? Can a large multi-car carrier drive it across land, or will it have to be put on a ship.

While distance is often a hassle when it comes to vehicle transport, it's also one of the reasons why so many people choose to ship their cars in the first place. New cars and antique/expensive cars lose their value as more miles are put on the vehicle, but when you ship a car, you don't have to worry about the mileage on the actual car you're transporting.

Keep in mind, too, that fuel costs factor into this equation -- if gas is on cheaper side, then you might get a more attractive rate for transporting your vehicle.

Transporting a vehicle is expensive -- there's no way around it. And a dependable auto shipping company won't try to hide that fact. Instead, they'll make sure that customers know how much shipping insurance costs (when not included), what types of damages it covers, and if certain carriers (like closed carriers) will provide better protection than others (like multi-car open carriers). Again, remember: cheaper isn't always better when it comes to car shipping.

Those are just a few common factors, but did we miss anything important? Let us know what you're thinking in the comments section!


No issues to report, service was dependable and reliable. Our car was available before the scheduled date! Very much appreciated!
T. Rosenthal


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